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Gilles Gauthier
Illustrated by Pierre-Andre Derome; translated by Sarah Cummins
Halifax, Formac Publishing, 1991. 60pp, paper, $5.95
ISBN 0-88780-096-3. (First Novel series). CIP

Grades 3 to 5/Ages 8 to 10

Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Mooch and Me by Gilles Gauthier is one of the new English editions pub­lished in French by La courte echelle. Translated by Sarah Cummins, this "First Novel" introduces Carl and his dog, Mooch (en francais, Ne touchez pas a ma Babouche (La courte echelle, 1988)). Carl tells about his best friend, an elderly German shepherd who is fearful of cats, a repeated victim of skunks and a confidante for her master's school problems. Carl's concern about losing Mooch comes to a climax the night a burglar is discovered in their house.

"First Novels" are aimed at young readers who are ready for a move away from picture-books and into a novel format. The books are extremely accessible to readers. They have large print, short chapters, a compact shape (10.5 cm x 17.5 cm) and numerous illustrations. Derome has made these appealing, using a scratchy, loose style.

The text is less successful. This book is a series of vignettes rather than a story. Carl relates his feelings and observations without being clearly placed in a setting or among strongly defined characters. For example, it is only in Chapter 7 that we learn Judy is Carl's mother. While short sentences and a brief plot are a must in writing for the intended audience, a smooth, flowing style and clearer characters would enhance the overall presentation. Mooch and Me will, however, fill a need for your patrons who are not ready for the Maggie and Cyril books by Ted Staunton (Maggie and Me, Greenapple Street Blues) or Jean Little's Different Dragons.

Jennifer Johnson, Ottawa, Ont.
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